Monday, 30 April 2012 08:23

Introduction to Plant Grafting

Silicone Graft ClipGrafting is combining the tissues of one plant with another so the two join together. Typically, one plant is selected for its roots (called a rootstock) due to soil-pathogen resistance, temperature tolerance, and high fruit-yield, while the other plant is selected for its stems, flowers, or fruits (called a scion), selected for its desired genes, i.e. pretty flowers, or a particular fruit.



In order to the successful, the tissues of both stock and scion plants must remain in continuous contact, and stay alive until the tissues fuse (usually a period of weeks). These joints formed by grafting are generally not as strong as those naturally formed because only newly formed tissues fuse with each other. 

Grafting has a number of advantages, such as: (1) inducing fruitfulness; (2) dwarfing plants; (3) increasing hardiness; (4) promoting repair; and even (5) creating natural furniture--read onto tree shaping below.


Same Species Grafts

Tomato grafting is perhaps the most utilized in the world throughout farms and greenhouses. Rootstock is selected for its ability to resist soilborne pathogens, tolerance to temperature shifts, drought, salinity, and ability to increase fruit yield. Different scions on placed on top of the selected rootstock to produce that particular type of fruit.

High Yield Tomato Graft
Grafted cupid tomatoes. Image courtesy of Mighty Mato.

If you're interested in tomato grafting, visit Ohio State's Tomato Grafting Project.


Inter Species Grafts

Inter-species grafts are more rare, creating a single organism based off two distinct genetic tissue. These chimera plants function similar as same-species grafts, where the resistant rootstock benefits the scion plant. For instance, Pepper scions have been successfully grafted onto tomato rootstocks, in an article that appeared in the Journal of Young Investigators.

Peppers on Tomatoes Graft
Peppers on Tomatoes Graft, Pepper-matoes? Image from JYI.

Certain chimera grafts have resulted in more. For instance, a tomato scion has been successfully grafted onto potato plants, allowing farmers to cultivate both at the same time, tomatoes above ground, and potatoes below. Can you say Pomato?

Pomato (Tomato + Potato Graft)
Tomato & Potato Graft, image courtesy of MyVietnamNews


Tree Shaping

Contary to popular belief, tree shaping is an ancient art dating back to the ancient Egyptians, where intentionally shaped three legged stools stand in display at the British Museum. 

Living Chair by Peter Cook
Living Chair by Peter Cook

Living grown structures are more resistant to decay than their mechanical counterparts. Trees can be bent, pruned, and grafted to form into artistic shapes or useful structures, such as furniture.


How to Graft?

It's as simple as cutting the stem off the rootstock, and attaching a stem from the scion. The most common method of crafting is a cleft graft. 

Cleft Graft

Instructions by Univ. Connecticut Professor Richard McAvoy

After grafting, both scion and rootstock plants must remain alive for several weeks for the tissue to fuse. To facilitate the healing process, the new plant should be placed in a humid area under low lighting to reduce stress while the tissues fuse.

Remember to wear surgical gloves, contaminants can often ruin a good graft. What about those plastic / silicone clips you ask? Amazon has 15 for under $10.

Experience grafter, or just getting started? Share your experiments with us here in the forums.

Read 11357 times Last modified on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 17:56
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